It's Probably Time to Stop Measuring How Feminist Women Are
Well, this is problematic. Annie Lennox (of the Eurythmics) recently participated in an interview with the LGBT website PrideSource in which she took issue with Beyoncé’s brand of feminism. With regards to Bey’s recent MTV Music Awards performance (where her backdrop was the word “FEMINIST” projected in ten-feet-tall letters), Lennox stated, “I would call that ‘feminist lite.’ L-I-T-E. I’m sorry. It’s tokenistic to me. I mean, I think she’s a phenomenal artist—I just love her performances—but I’d like to sit down [with her]. I think I’d like to sit down with quite a few artists and talk to them. I’d like to listen to them. I’d like to hear what they truly think.”
Look, I think we would ALL love to sit down with Beyoncé and have a conversation with her, but you actually don’t need to go to the trouble if you want The Bey’s views on gender equality. It’s all just a quick Google search away. The thing is, even if Beyoncé didn’t have a well-documented history of being both a visible feminist icon and a staunch supporter of gender equality, even if all that connected Bey to the word “feminist” was her MTV performance, she would still be completely entitled to the label.
Gender equality is a club that’s open to everybody. There aren’t “real feminists” and “L-I-T-E feminists.” There are just feminists, people who are proponents of gender equality and are bothered by institutionalized sexism and want the world to be a place where everyone has a fair shot regardless of what gender they identify with.
It’s a shortsighted move to frame feminism as an exclusive club that will turn you away at the door if you’re not “serious” enough. That’s a surefire way to make people who would have, under more inclusive circumstances, really liked to have been invited to the party, feel completely disenfranchised from the cause. Feminism is splintered enough as a movement. We don’t need to splinter it further.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as “serious” or “not serious” feminism. I think different brands of the movement make sense in different people’s lives. Gloria Steinem may connect better with one group, Beyoncé with another, but if the connecting is happening, that can only be a good thing.
We should have hundreds of available feminist role models, people who can connect with their followers, and with the respect and admiration they command, really make sure the universal message of feminism is heard. No matter where you fall on the gender spectrum, you are entitled to safety, respect, and equality.